Corporate powers and their mouthpieces like to pretend medicine costs are the way they are for several reasons. The cost of manufacture, the cost of doing business—anything but the truth.
The reality is that Americans pay the medical costs they do because we’re being exploited. Powerful corporations run an industry you cannot avoid if you want to live and, therefore, hold all the cards. Competition is stomped out and politicians are kept well-paid.
Today we’ll go over some of the tragedies of modern medical costs in the US and some solutions that could start saving lives.
Exploitative Medicine Costs Kill Americans
The tragedy of insulin manufacture and sale highlights some of the worst of Big Pharma. In the United States, few stories make it more clear that money is put before human lives than those regarding this critical drug.
Insulin is an essential medication for diabetics. Without this medication, they will die. There is also no cure for diabetes (although remission for type 2 diabetes is sometimes possible).
We’re lucky in that insulin is very cheap to manufacture, costing a few dollars per vial. In Europe, pricing tends to reflect this reality too, costing a few dollars each month. Diabetes can be affordable with manufacturers still making what most would call a healthy profit.
In the United States, it costs well over 130 dollars a vial (and used to cost even more). Price has been marked up at times over 5000%.
It is never lowered naturally. Price is only reduced due to regulation, public outcry, or competition.
There are over 7 million American diabetics who essentially either pay what is demanded of them or die. And let’s be clear, Americans do die. About four or five Americans die each year rationing their insulin because they can’t afford the recommended number of vials.
This isn’t unique to diabetes. If something can be made expensive and people will have no alternative, then Big Pharma makes it expensive. Regulations stopping this exploitation are few and full of loopholes.
This problem is, perhaps frustratingly, not especially difficult to fix in terms of the legal changes that would be required. High prescription costs are the result of corporations being too free to price an essential good however they want.
Heavily regulating drug pricing would go incredibly far in the fight against the exploitation of the sick. There is a difference between a healthy profit and multiple thousand percent markup on medication that people need to survive.
The bolder answer that many have resisted is socialized medicine. If the state bore medical costs, people would almost always be able to afford medical care. However, some fear it will reduce the quality of care in this country or wind up costing them more as they pay for the care of others.
However, somewhat paradoxically, the cost to the average taxpayer would probably go down. People would be more likely to get their medical problems fixed early when the costs of that care are cheaper. It is much less costly to treat most conditions as soon as they’re noticed than when they have had time to worsen.
Socialized medicine being a good idea isn’t new. The data is fairly overwhelming. All one has to do is compare both the medical costs and outcomes of the USA and other developed nations (we lose on both accounts).
For now, though, some costs can at least be saved purchasing medicine online. For example, you can buy Neurontin online with a prescription. Many other medications are available too, so it’s worth looking around online if your pharmacy’s pricing seems steep.
An Uphill Battle
As the Obama administration’s attempts at something approaching socialized medicine proved, fixing the United States’ healthcare problems is a huge challenge.
Big Pharma will not let go of its stranglehold on healthcare costs without a fight. They will pay huge amounts of capital to resist changes that could permanently affect their bottom line.
Meanwhile, anti-welfare/socialism has become something of a modern conservative staple. What’s so tragic is that it seems this largely began as politicians protecting lobbyist interests but has now bled into the population as genuine belief. Worse, many fail to realize just how expensive our current healthcare system is to the average taxpayer.
Even calls for moderate regulation of the healthcare industry are ignored and resisted on a nearly daily basis. The entire industry is broken in the United States.
Change is largely going to have to come from the conversion of hesitant moderate liberals and then, later, convincing conservative voters our healthcare system is both broken and the proposals to fix it made by those with Big Pharma interests are often full of downright lies.
If that conversation can progress, prescription drugs may start to become affordable. In exactly what form the new rules and regulations will take, it is too early to tell.
Have Hope, Be Angry
The above might rightfully leave you with some mixed feelings. On the one hand, the conversation is evolving. On the other, those with corporate interests to the contrary are rallying their bases with misinformation and catchy slogans to try and push back that conversation.
You should be angry about medicine costs in America. Everyone should be. People die because their medicine is sold at markups thousands of percentage points high.
If you want to do more, you can help by being sure to spread the facts and figures that show just how broken our healthcare industry is. Talk about how pricing is so different elsewhere and yet the quality of the medication remains completely the same. And certainly, talk about those falling into debt or downright dying because of our current medical practices.
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